Do You Need a Recovery Coach? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

By Mary Smucker-Priest

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Life in recovery comes with many triumphs and many challenges. For some, enlisting the support of a recovery coach can be instrumental to maintaining substance use sobriety, making life in eating disorder recovery feel manageable, or helping stay on track when juggling responsibilities while managing mental illness. The following are five questions to ask yourself to help you determine if a recovery coach may be right for you or a loved one.

recovery coach sitting with a client at a table1. Have I ever used a professional recovery coach before?

When thinking about your journey of recovery, whatever it is that it looks like for you, and whatever stage you are in, it is important to think about utilizing all possible supports around you. When we think about the utilization of supports in your support system, sometimes we default to our close family or friends to provide a high level. Although this is important and often integral to recovery, recognizing that having a neutral third party to assist us in each stage of our recovery is equally as important. If you are unsure, it is likely that you have never established a formal relationship with a professional coach.

2. What would having a recovery coach look like for me?

It is important when making the decision to hire a professional recovery coach to first explore what it is you may gain from that professional and therapeutic relationship. Working with your existing treatment team (if one is in place) can help you to identify how this adjunctive support, outside of traditional therapy and psychiatry, can be extremely beneficial. Working with your team on identifying goals that a coach can help you achieve is often a major piece of the equation. If you decide to hire a recovery coach, you also explore with that professional, in collaboration with your team, the collective goals that you are working toward.

3. Do I have enough professional support around me?

It is often the case that folks who are exploring recovery coaching services have at least one provider in place. It may be that this provider is a licensed therapist, treating psychiatrist, or another professional in either the behavioral health or medical field. Does it feel like your engagement with your current team provides the level of support and accessibility that you need in the stage of your recovery that you are in?

4. What is the difference between a 12-step sponsor and a professional recovery coach?

If part of your journey in recovery is participation in 12-step programming such as AA or NA, it is likely you are aware of what 12-step sponsors are and the support that they can provide to you at times of difficulty, during urges to use, exploring “working the steps”, etc. A fundamental difference between a professional recovery coach and a sponsor is that coaches will help you explore a variety of different support systems and resources all around you, both externally and internally, to access the route in your recovery that best matches your needs. In addition, at OPG, recovery coaches develop coaching/case management plans to explore multiple areas in your life that intersect with your journey in recovery and help you develop specifics goals and objectives within those areas.

5. At times I feel sick of “treatment” and “therapy”; would my recovery coach try to be “like my therapist”?

Professional recovery coaches are aware that their role in working with you is not direct therapy. Although it may at times feel therapeutic in nature, they are not providing formal assessments, diagnostic formulations, and subsequent clinical treatments via specific modalities such as CBT, DBT, or MI. Recovery coaches play an essential part of a team, and the model is oriented around coordinating and collaborating with each party involved. The things that you learn about and explore in therapy can be supported by your coach during your meetings, however, it is not the recovery coach who is directing your clinical treatment.

If you’ve answered these questions and found yourself wanting to learn more about recovery coaching, we can help. Contact us today for a consultation or learn more about our professional recovery coaching services.

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